Letter: Advice for the young women of UC Berkeley

Since the lovely ladies of Princeton and now Harvard have received life advice, as a Cal alumna, I felt obligated to share mine. To all the amazing young women at Berkeley, you do not have to find a life partner before you graduate. All you have to do is begin to find yourself.

In my junior year at Cal, I fell in love with an amazing fellow student whom I met running together for student government.  I was running for external affairs vice president and he was running for senate. I lost, he won, but above all, we found each other through our shared passion for politics.  Seven years later, we followed our political dreams to Washington, D.C., and lived together. And then we broke up.

I’m forever grateful for my former partner, but we met when we were so young. For many years, we grew together, but then when we finally came into our own, we decided we didn’t make each other happy. When we broke up, especially as many of my peers were getting married, I felt like I had failed as a human being by not finding mine. I still want a husband.  Fortunately, I live in Washington, D.C., one of the most educated cities in the nation with incredibly amazing men.  I’m positive I will find my partner in due time. So will you! Moreover, a life partner is not a requirement for a successful, happy life. And if you don’t ever want one, that’s a perfect decision as well.

I’m currently an adjunct professor at Trinity Washington University and highly recommend you make use of your college years predominantly to explore what makes you happy. No school on the planet is like Berkeley. Take advantage of the plethora of academic and extracurricular activities.  Run for ASUC, join a club, do an internship, learn what you hate to discover what you love. Moreover, your fellow Golden Bears are among the most intelligent, diverse, passionate and quirky people you will ever meet.  Cultivate those friendships.  Years later, many of my best friends from Cal moved to Washington, D.C., and we still hang out regularly. My friends from Berkeley still help me find jobs, and I have lived with them in Israel, Mexico, and Egypt.

Ladies, you are brilliant! The world needs us Cal women to become the best we can be to use our talents to improve the world. I am still trying to figure out what makes me happy. There is no single dream job, and you will constantly be reinventing yourself.  However, your time at Cal is precious and one of the best periods of your life to discover yourself.

Go Lady Bears!

— Pamela O’Leary,
UC Berkeley alumna

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